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238          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY    PEOPLE

gown Alley, which once was the home of the great Wang and
Hsieh families:

Now by the Red-sparrow Bridge wild grasses are growing,
And on the Blackgown Alley the ev'ning sun is glowing,
And the swallows which once graced the Wang and

Hsieh halls,

Now feed in common people's homesówithout their


The last and most important point is the investment of
natural objects with human actions, qualities and emotions,
not by direct personification but by cunning metaphors, like
"idle flowers," "the sad wind," "the chafing sparrow," etc.
The metaphors in themselves are nothing: the poetry consists
in the poet spreading his emotion over the scenery and com-
pelling it by the force of his emotion to live and share his own joys
and sorrows. This is clearest in the above example, where the
three-mile-long gay and green willows are referred to as "heart-
less" because they did not, as they ought to, remember Ch'en
Houchu and share the poet's feeling of poignant regret.

Once when I was travelling with a poet friend, our bus passed
a small secluded hillside, with just a single cottage, with all
doors closed and a solitary peach tree in full blossom standing
idly in front, apparently wasting its fragrant glory on a deserted
valley. I still remember the last two lines of the quatrain
which my friend sketched in his notebook:

The farmer couple to the fields have gone,

And dead-bored are the flowers outside its doors.

What is achieved, then, is a poetic feeling for the peach tree,
supposed to be capable of being "bored" to death, which
borders on pantheism. The same technique, or rather attitude,
is extremely common in all good Chinese poetry. So, for
instance, did Li Po begin one of his best poems:

Late at twilight I passed the verdant hills,
And the mountain moon followed me horn